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[Universalis - Nominally anyway] The Dead Can Dance

Started by LordSmerf, October 16, 2003, 08:28:15 PM

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This was ostensibly a game of Universalis.  We did generate Components and used traits, but never used Complications or Challenges.  It was rather fun.

A little background.  This game was the continuation of a story from another system, so some of the main ideas were already fleshed out (Terpsichore, Somdeyers, Ghouls, Terpsichore's previous mission, etc.).  In order to show this we sat down and assigned appropriate Traits to the pertinent components.  It was interesting even if it did provide for some incredibly powerful characters.

Also, i've got a much easier to read version of this in MS Word, but i don't have anywhere to host it for public access.  It will be going up on my Yahoogroup... but that's not that useful to you.  Hopefully it will remain pretty clear as to what happened.


2003 October 15 – Universalis

•   This story must be unanimously approved for Trithofar canonization (Jared)
•   A Player Character can only be modified with the owner's permission (Thomas)
•   The DM [Jared] gets double starting coins and double refresh and frames every major scene (Thomas)

Ghoul (Master Component)
•   Undead
•   Souled
•   Regeneration (Undead)
•   Tough to kill (Undead)
•   Strong (Undead)
•   Slowly decaying body (Undead)
•   Dependent on Necromancy for survival (Undead)
•   Fearless (No Adrenaline)
•   No physically influenced emotions
•   No fatigue
•   Need no sleep

Somdeyer (Master Component)
•   Also known as "Soullie"
•   Magical Construct
•   Golem
•   Strong
•   Fast
•   Hard to damage
•   Repairable
•   Souled
•   Feared
•   Twisted
•   Loyal to Xenoreth
•   Terrifying
•   Combat effective
•   Master of some weapon
•   Commanding presence
•   Authoritative
•   Egomaniacal
•   Almost no tactile sense
•   Omni directional sight and hearing
•   Hyper awareness

•   Player Character (Thomas)
•   Petite
•   Beautiful
•   Cold
•   High maintenance
•   Dang good with a sword (x2)
•   Dual wielding (x2)
•   Dancer (x2)
•   Fast
•   Agile
•   Matching masterwork swords (x2)
•   Empathic
•   Bodyguard
•   Agent of Xenoreth
•   Black hair
•   Black eyes
•   Pale skin
•   Arrogant
•   Assassin
•   Distant
•   Graceful
•   Unforgiving
•   Ghoul (Sub Component)
•   Slave of Xenoreth
•   Respects Xenoreth
•   Acrobatic
•   Canteen of Cursed Blood
•   Small religious book

Scene 1 - Begin
JARED: Our scene opens just outside the town of Dubre inside the magistrate's mansion.  Night has fallen, the wan light of a half-moon gives poor visibility.  Within the magistrate's throne room we find Somdeyer ("Soullie") #103*, a Somdeyer* formed of wood*, carrying a long sword* as well as Torgon*, a very powerful (x2)* Necromancer*, with a mysterious tome*.  The only illumination for the room is a bonfire fueled by corpses.  By their light we see Terpsichore lying on an altar, her eyes are open.  Terpsichore raises herself to a sitting position.

THOMAS: Terpsichore shudders and attempts to shake off the dark memories of a place of total darkness.  The last thing she remembers is accepting the offer of an unseen voice for a second chance.  Terpsichore takes careful stock of the situation.  Terpsichore's eyes widen suddenly and her hands seek her blades.  She experiences a moment of loss as she finds nothing, but then she spots her equipment at the foot of the altar.  Seeing her clothes makes her realize that she is naked, but she doesn't feel cold.  Terpsichore spots a man she does not recognize and a soullie she has hacked to pieces once before, though he seems undamaged now.  She reaches out with her empathic sense to see if she can read the unknown man's emotional state.

JARED: She senses that this man is full of hatred, pride, smugness, and condescension.  There is no trace of the "softer" human emotions.  The pride, strangely enough, seems focused on Terpsichore.

THOMAS: Terpsichore speaks softly, "What is my mission?"

JARED: The necromancer turns and says, "You mission parameters have changes as of late.  You have a new set of priorities: to capture Vice-general Fensen Deya."

THOMAS: "What is the target's last known location?"

JARED: "Vice-general Deya is believed to be hiding in a city north of here known as Dargyle.  You will be accompanied by a new soullie, this one is going to have to be 'reeducated.'  If you cannot find Deya himself you must find someone who can lead us to him.  Soullie #24 shall accompany you, he is waiting for you in the magistrate's study.  In your travels be careful not to make the soullie to obvious; he is at your command, of course.  Your previous mission objective has been postponed due to the recent change in your condition, but the Magistrate of Yuressae is still under suspicion."

THOMAS: "Current status of the Neevrame Province?"

JARED: "The magistrate is being held in his own dungeon and incorrectly believes his family to still live.  We are still seeking information regarding any contact he has had with the Resistance.  You have the run of this town, though many of its inhabitants are being... disposed of.  To the northeast was the last known location of General Derrikan Mose, who is now on our side.  If you encounter him, get an updated status report.  Do you have any other questions?"

THOMAS: "No questions at this time."

JARED: "Very well, take care young Terpsichore."

Scene 1 - End

Scene 2 – Begin
JARED: Terpsichore and Somdeyer #24* are riding north on an abandoned stretch of the Imperial Highway just after dawn on Hungeil 20th.  The soullie is wearing a hooded robe and is carrying both a battle axe* and a shield*, a large skinning knife* is sheathed in his belt.  He also seems to be a quiet* sort, speaking little.
   The scenery is composed mostly of young evergreens with sparse undergrowth and a few patches of snow.  There is very little in the way of cover in this area.  To the northeast the sound of ravens cawing can be heard.  At the approach of horses the ravens burst into flight.

THOMAS: Terpsichore pats the canteen* of cursed blood* at her side for reassurance as she reigns in her horse.  "Let us find out what is drawing the ravens," she suggests as she turns her horse from the road.

JARED: Terpsichore and the Soullie discover 10 dead bodies* three of which are soldiers while the other seven are peasants.  There are flies swarming around the corpses.  These soldiers appear to be from Dubre.  All the bodies have been completely disarmed though one of the soldiers grasps a small leather bound book in his right hand.

THOMAS: Terpsichore dismounts and picks up the small book* which causes the flesh of her hand to blister and burn* as well as giving her a feeling of extreme queasiness.  Terpsichore nonchalantly slides the book into her satchel.  Terpsichore then examines the bodies which show evidence of massive blade wounds.  After another quick examination Terpsichore remounts and gestures for the soullie to follow back to the road.  "Let us be on our way."

JARED: The soullie nods and then asks "Do you suppose these soldiers were... rebels?"

THOMAS: "I do not believe that it matters, they are now dead and will be neither a help nor a hindrance to our mission."

JARED: "Who do you think killed them?"

THOMAS: "Again, I do not believe that it matters.  If we are in turn attacked by their attackers, I am sure that we will not have any problems."  Terpsichore then steps her horse up to a canter.

Scene 2 - End


We haven't decided for sure, but i definately enjoyed this adventure and would like to continue it.  There are some things that didn't quite go as i wished them to, but live and learn...

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible

Mike Holmes

And they said that Universalis is a decidedly competitive game. Note that use of Complications and Challenges are all optional. So they weren't even playing an drifted game. Just using it as they saw fit. People always forget that you can always create conflcits in play that don't generate Complications simply by Controlling both sides of the conflict.


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This has actually been a very interesting game for me.  We played again last night, and about an hour and a half in we stepped back and said "Screw system, we're not using it anyway."  We proceded to spend the rest of the system in a totally freeform narrative where we collaborated on character actions.  It helps that there are only two of us and that we have known each other for years...  I'll try to get that posted later today...

This isn't changing my love of Universalis.  I just feel that i'm developing a sense of its limitations as well as its advantages.  I love Universalis, but it seems to work better with at least 4 people as that tends to generate some sort of critical mass for conflict generation...

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible